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Research projects

Study of the effects of perfluorooctanesulfonic compounds (PFCs) on fatty acid metabolism during avian development

About this project

Project information

Project status

In progress


Nikolai Scherbak

Research subject

Research environments

Several of the PFCs have been produced for over 50 years and are used in a wide variety of industrial and consumer products. A number of PFCs, including perfluorooctane sulfonate acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), are widespread in biota, including wild birds. Exposure to PFOS can result in reduced body weight, hepatocellular hypertrophy, and a decrease in serum cholesterol and triglycerides. The mechanism of action is suggested to interfere with fatty acid hepatic protein binding, with bioenergetics of mitochondria and with gap junctional intercellular communication, and peroxisomal fatty acid b-oxidation. Less information on PFC toxicity to birds is available. The chicken egg has proven to be a practical and sensitive model for studies of embryonic toxicity of halogenated hydrocarbons. Experimental studies conducted in Dr. M. Engwall group using in ovo chicken embryo exposure to PFOS showed that embryo-toxic effects are very close to environmental concentrations. Knowledge of changes in gene expression and protein synthesis of the components of fatty acid metabolism under influence of PFCs will deepen our knowledge of mechanisms underlying cellular response to PFC.

Current projects will test following hypotheses:

  1. Toxic effect of PFCs involves both changes in gene regulation and protein expression of important for beta-oxidation enzymes.
  2. There are differences in effects on beta-oxidation of fat between PFOA and PFOS and these differences can be used for development of PFOA/PFOS-specific bio-markers.

Research funding bodies

  • The Magnus Bergvall Foundation
  • Örebro University